All Access at Heinz Field 
Yesterday I went to the Pitt game with two college friends and one of them had some all-access passes for Pitt games at Heinz Field. So, we spent most of the first half on the Pitt sideline. When you watch a football game you always see regular people on the sideline and yesterday I was one of those people. To say it was awesome is an understatement. At the half, we went to the club level which is heated and has a bar. Heinz field does not sell alchohol during Pitt games but on the club level they do. After spending some time there, we were able to get into a private box through my friend who knows some of the regulars in the box. In the box with us was Foge Fazio and Jamie Dixon amongst others who were probably also fairly prominent in the local sports or business scenes. Foge sat in front of us and we chatted often during the course of the second half. Coach Dixon was on the other side of the suite engaged in conversation but I was able to sneak in a quick "Coach Dixon, best of luck for another good season" and shake his hand. Coach Fazio is very personable and my friends and I had quite a pleasant time engaging in the normal chatter people engage in while watching a football game. I was never formally introduced to Foge and it wasn't until after the game I discovered it was him.

The stadium only provides the box. The catering staff, which included a chef, and food are hired by the box's owner. The spread included crabcakes, coconut shrimp, ham, prime rib, and other fine foods. The drinks included the usual beer and soda, 12-15 bottles of the most popular types of liquor and some wine. My friend suggested I have a glass of wine and I declined but when he told me what it was, I changed my mind. I couldn't resist drinking a glass wine that costs $200 a bottle. There was more than one bottle of it on the bar too.

I never thought I'd encounter, certainly not within an hour, a former Pitt football coach, the current basketball coach, and get within about four feet of Coach Wannstedt on the sideline. Actually, he got close to me as I wasn't about to intrude on the team's space but as the course of the game dictates, the head coach does have to traverse the sideline quite a bit.

Pitt played well during the first half and led at halftime 14-10. Once we left the sideline and went upstairs, they fell apart. The final was 48-37 USF with USF getting two scores directly off interceptions and setting up a third with one too. Aside from the Pitt-PSU game in 1987 (Pitt won 10-0) yesterday's game was the most memorable but more for the extracurriculars.

Some other notes: it's 287 miles from the Sheetz in Monroeville to my house. I got on turnpike in Monroeville at 5:05 and I was in my driveway at 9:45. I made two quick stops and went through the Wendy's drive-through in Carlisle.

Certainly a fun experience and something I didn't expect as I didn't know I'd be able to use an all-access pass. I won't be able to sit in my regular seats again!

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In Pittsburgh 
Making a quick post today before I head out to the Pitt-USF game; it's COLD here in Pittsburgh: 24 F at 8:45 am and it will be in the 30's during the game. I am doing a quick turnaround; left for Pittsburgh yesterday and going back home after the game. To keep myself occupied, I loaded my MP3/Ogg player with a few Linux Link Techshow podcasts (Ogg, of course) and discovered a great new game to play while driving - spell out cities, towns, and other words you encounter in Morse Code. See the Carlisle exit, and just blurt out dash-dot-dash-dot dot-dash dot-dash-dot dot-dash-dot-dot dot-dot dot-dot-dot dot-dash-dot-dot dot. Really, it can be fun and it keeps your mind going. It's easier to say than to type.

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First Flakes 

Over three inches of unpredicted snow fell over our area yesterday into today. The forecast was for a rain and snow mix with little or no accumulation. It actually worked out well since it wasn't predicted, there was no pre-snow panic.

As you can tell, my apple tree still has most of its leaves, which are much easier to deal with when they fall than the pine needles that cover about 50% of my yard and fall on the roof and completely fill the gutters. If you've never had the joy of raking and blowing pine needles and clearing gutters of them, you are missing out on one of life's great treats.

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Hand Picked 
Word around the blogosphere is that CNN staged the Democratic debate in Las Vegas. The audience was full of ringers (non-ringers?) and the questioners where told what to ask. [Link] Of course, CNN has done this in the past with an equally silly question. [Link]

Diamonds or pearls? What's up with that? Is that question indicative of the decisions a cabinet usually asks a president to make? Is that a matter of national importance?

I did not watch the debate so I cannot comment on the content and the alleged pro-Clinton tilt. But I can say that questions about jewelry are silly and unlikely to be topics of discussion when Iran takes Americans hostage again, or when China moves some capital ships closer to Taiwan, or when Democrats are scratching their heads as the War on Poverty quagmire moves closer and closer to year 50 with no end in sight.

Let's end this charade so that B.O., Joe Biden, and Denis Kucinichovich can get back to doing what they were elected to do - representing and working for their constituents. I mean, really, these guys should be in 1) Washington or 2) their state/district working for the people; not flying to Vegas and Iowa and Philadelphia, and everywhere else. As for Edwards, he can go back to suing big companies for doing mean things like making money. The MSM is rooting for Hillary and making no real effort to conceal it. So, boys, get back to work! If the economy is in such dire straits like you all say, you'd be doing everyone a favor by not accepting any more money from the waiting-in-the-soup-line public. Hillary's money only comes from straight-shooters like Norman Hsu or dishwashers in NYC who love her so much they have no problem shelling out $1000 for her campaign. I remember when I was making $6 an hour. I just couldn't wait to give some millionaire candidate a month's pay. Take my money! Please! Every dish I scrub is another penny just for you!

As for Yucca Mountain, you won't see me moving near there any time soon. I suggest you don't either.

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Veteran's Day 
Support our troops, not by ending the war but by rooting for the home team and letting our military do what it's trained to do.

The victors do not determine when a war ends, the vanquished do - by laying down their arms and giving up the fight.

Aside from having a pro-American attitude, another way to help is to donate to one of the myriad of charities set up to help soldiers and veterans in many ways. Here is a link from a DoD site with links to some of these charities that help wounded troops: [Link].

Now, for something more fun, I ran into this page from the Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago which has interesting pictures which are characterized as conceptual photography. Since I am a Pitt Alum, I have seen the Panther photo before but I had never seen the others. All of which are quite impressive. [Link]

Update: Lo and behold, Google did a special logo for Veteran's Day. There's a first time for everything! I sent a tip to and within 40 minutes Noel Sheppard had emailed me back and had a post up.

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.... . .-.. .-.. --- / .-- --- .-. .-.. -.. how "hello world" is represented in Morse Code. The dots and dashes are generally called dits (short/dot) and dahs (long/dash). The slash in the title represents a space between words. When transmitting, the space between words is a short pause.

I am trying to learn Morse Code and Tap Code. Tap Code is real easy in that all you do is draw a 5x5 box and letter A-E on the first row and continue down four more ending with Z. C and K are the same and included in the first row. The taps work row-column so it's easy to set-up and visualize. Thus, tap-pause-tap is A, tap-pause-tap-tap is B, tap-tap-pause-tap is F and so on. When tapping is not an option, eye blinks, light flashes, or just about anything that has an on/off state can work.

Morse Code is more complicated so I built a Morse Code buzzer per these instructions and I decided to use both the buzzer and LED. So, now I practice and it's hard. I need to find someone to practice with so I can practice both sending and translating. I am also way too slow. I've read that some people can hit over 50 wpm, the record is 75 wpm, and claims of over 100 wpm have been made. Wow.

I don't know if I'll every need to use or decipher Morse Code but it can't hurt to know it. Same goes for Tap Code. One can never know too many ways to communicate.

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Pile On 
Even though Hillary has a commanding lead in both the polls and in cash, her strategy of playing a victim I find questionable myself but something that may just work. After all, one core bastion of thought that most Democrats preach when they try to get your vote is to convince you, the voter, that you are a victim. The reason that you cannot act on the opportunities available in this country is that everyone is against you. Outcome is what's important, not opportunity, and if you can't pass the open-book exam that is life, than someone has used some supernal force and made you a victim. The MSM has been bleating for several years now how bad things are and how bad you have it and have set the table perfectly on this theme too.

So it goes, then, it's only natural that the other Democratic candidates hit her hard (even if it was slow-pitch softball) during the debate a few days ago. Mind you, these other candidates are not world leaders who aspire to develop nuclear weapons or who do nothing to prevent its citizens from crossing the Rio Grande en masse, these are just some guys who are fading rapidly and will return to their regular jobs soon enough and know it.

Her campaign is playing the "guys beating up a girl" card and they know many will be critical of this but her camp also knows that this tactic will garner a few more percentage points as this is directed towards other "victims" of our evil society that really demands little of us. Hillary is a strong woman. She can handle herself and its unlikely any opponent or any moderator, even if they stop tossing softball questions, can shake her.

I don't agree with this crybaby tactic but she does aspire to be president. She needs to be hammered day in and day out and if she can't handle it from Americans, surely she can't handle it from the world. This applies to all the candidates, boy or girl.

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Rope for Sale 
I saw this story this morning and it reminded me to try to find the actual quote attributed to Lenin that says, in effect, "The capitalist will sell you the rope you intend to hang him with." I wanted to find the actual quote and when it was said or where it was published originally. In searching, I found some other salient quotes attributed to Lenin.
A system of licensing and registration is the perfect device to deny gun ownership to the bourgeoisie.

Only an armed people can be the real bulwark of popular liberty.

Destroy the family, you destroy the country.

The Cold War is over and now we've declared war on ourselves.

Lenin clearly understood the masses. The masses are only as smart as the lowest common denominators among them and these LCD's have also infiltrated American business.

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The Good(s) of Wal-Mart 
As we watch and read about the massive fires in California, most of us cannot fathom such tragedy happening to us. Fortunately, we live in a nation where people and businesses rise to the challenge of helping the people who have been displaced because of these terrible fires.

Continuing its trend of helping out victims of disaster, The Wal-Mart Foundation has pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross. According to CNNMoney, the foundation also gave $32 million to Katrina relief efforts. Frankly, I am surprised that CNN actually published the article since Wal-Mart is often seen as the enemy by many liberals and the mostly liberal media.

Corporations are not required to do such deeds and many do not. While this doesn't necessarily prove that Wal-Mart is altruistic, no one can deny that Wal-Mart is a fine corporate citizen when it comes to helping those in need.

People also forget that Wal-Mart wasn't incarnated as the largest company in the world. Yes, it's hard to believe but it's true. There was a time when Wal-Mart was a small fledgling company that other retailers probably laughed at. Sam Walton is the embodiment of the American Dream. Sam started small, worked hard, and over a period of time kicked his competitors' asses back to the Stone Age while completely schooling them on the business of retailing. Everybody wants to be number one but only a very few every get there. Sam Walton was one of those few.

Alas, the Wal-Mart bashing will undoubtedly continue so let's just all remember that we are free to bash Wal-Mart, free to shop elsewhere, and corporations are free to help those in need as they so choose. Many people will continue to despise Wal-Mart, ignoring the hard work Sam Walton and the benevolence of the Wal-Mart Foundation. No one ever said being number one was easy.

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ipw2200 Firmware Upgrade 
I have a Sony Vaio laptop that used to just run Kubuntu but now I have set it up as a dual-boot with WinXP on one side and Slackware 12 on the other. I have had a few problems and the biggest is getting LILO to work properly. When LILO is set properly, the WinXP side gives me a BSOD shortly after it's turned on and just hangs there with a system is shut down type message. However, when I use Bootmagic to select the Windows partition, the machine boots directly to Windows with no LILO screen. I can still boot to Slackware by inserting the Slackware CD and typing this at the prompt:

hugesmp.s root=/dev/hda2 rdinit= ro

which works but it's a pain to do. The second problem was the wireless connection. The module loaded on boot (ipw2200) but I could not start eth0; with the standard "eth0: error fetching interface connection: device not found" error. I did a "dmesg | grep ipw" showed these errors:

# dmesg | grep ipw
ipw2200: Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2200/2915 Network Driver, 1.2.0kmprq
ipw2200: Copyright(c) 2003-2006 Intel Corporation
ipw2200: Detected Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection
ipw2200: ipw2200-bss.fw request_firmware failed: Reason -2
ipw2200: Unable to load firmware: -2
ipw2200: failed to register network device
ipw2200: probe of 0000:06:04.0 failed with error -5

I found a fix on a Suse forum and that suggested updating the firmware would work; the firmware can be found here:

and I downloaded and installed version 3. I unpacked the tarball, changed to the directly and typed as root:

cp ipw2200-* /lib/firmware

and reloaded the ipw2200 module and restarted the network and wireless now works. Now, if I can only fix that LILO problem...

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An Inconvenient Lecture 
...but luckily a story carried by the Sydney Morning Herald is easily accessible thanks to the Intarweb. You'd be hard-pressed to find this story in any US papers or US-based media's websites even though the lecture was given in North Carolina by a prominent American in his field.

A lecture the media didn't miss was a retired US general who bashed our policy in Iraq, even if they shoved the first part of it into the memory hole. When Lt. Gen. Sanchez, a former commander of American troops, is critical US of policy, it's horns-a-blowin' and trumpets-a-blarin' time by the MSM. Of course, the media hasn't always received Sanchez with open arms, (see below), and they didn't seem too interested in reporting on the first part of Sanchez' lecture.

But if someone in the climate and meteorology field, an expert and authority in that field nonetheless, questions anything the Goracle has said, well, <crickets chirping>. Liberal bias in the mainstream media? Nah........

But you're thinking, "yeah, but Iraq is the bigger news story now."

Alas, perhaps, but Al himself said that climate change (yes, I know that term is redundant) is the most important issue in the world:
He told Sky News television that global warming is "the most important issue in the world."
[ Link]

Oh, but did the media believe General Petraeus' report? After all, he is the current commander of US forces. Surely they would put as much belief into his story as they would for Sanchez. Maybe things were as bad as Sanchez says but it's possible they are improving. Yeah, right, good luck finding that in your local paper or on a cable news channel. Good news out of Iraq is strictly prohibited by the MSM, just like anyone who questions Al Gore, even if that anyone is a real meteorological expert.

Since Al has been in the news of late, surely the MSM would welcome debate and analysis by experts who hold opposing views to Gore's stance on the issue of climate change. After all, aren't dissent, debate, and the questioning of our leaders, even if they are no longer elected officials, the first duty of the citizenry?

Another thing the media missed what that Sanchez also blasted the media for their reporting of Iraq and in fact, tossing back some phrases the media has used to describe him like: "most inexperienced LTG ever" and "liar" and "not a strategic thought" in addition to really calling the media on the carpet for their lack of adherence to journalistic ethics. [Link]

Bravo Dr. Gray. Bravo Gen. Sanchez.

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YASB - Yet Another Smoking Ban  
The city of Belmont, CA, recently passed a strict anti-smoking ordinance that, aside from the usual bans of smoking, actually dictates that people in certain dwellings cannot smoke in their residences. [Story]

What the article didn't mention is that, in an unrelated resolution, the city has enacted a new official greeting to be used when greeting fellow residents or when the police come to your door to enforce the law. The city council is seen in this photo demonstrating the new town greeting.

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